CONSERVATION BIOLOGY RESEARCH
Trans-Pecos Texas supports a diverse collection of bird species, due in large part to the variety of habitats found in the region including desert grasslands, shrublands, montane forests and woodlands, and riparian corridors. Additionally, it’s location along a major flyway between North American nesting sites and wintering sites in Central and South America make the Trans-Pecos an important stopover for many migrating species. Over 500 different avian species have been recorded in the Trans-Pecos, and nearly half of those are species that have nested in this area.
Birds play important roles in the ecosystems of Trans-Pecos Texas as pollinators, seed dispersers, and as a prey source for other birds and mammals. Increased urbanization, habitat fragmentation, and climate change have all been linked to declining bird diversity and changes in migratory habits across the globe. Now, more than ever, understanding the community of birds in west Texas is important, as they can be excellent indicators of the overall health of the environment.
NEED A WRITE UP FOR CARNIVORES (MOUNTAIN LION, BLACK BEAR, AND FIT FOX)
Matt's kit fox project
Jamie's mountain lion project
Michael's mountain lion project
NEED WRITE UP FOR LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY
Kelley's RBB project
Small mammals play important roles in desert ecosystems. By consuming seeds, they influence the plant community, and through digging and the creation of burrows they help to aerate the soil making it more hospitable to plants and better able to absorb moisture. Small mammals are also a significant source of prey for many larger mammals and birds of prey. Small mammals occupy relatively small home ranges, and they are dependent upon on the appropriate resources being present in that area for their survival. This means that their presence or absence in an area can tell us a lot about the condition of that ecosystem. Additionally, because small mammals have a relatively short lifespan and communities can change rapidly, they serve as good indicator species for changes occurring in the environment.